Chicken Taco Soup

I have had a crazy craving for taco soup for the LONGEST time now, and I finally remembered what needed to go into it WHILE I was at the grocery store! I’d made many different taco soup recipes, and this one that I threw together was really good, and SO SIMPLE! Really, the extent of this recipe is chopping up a half an onion and opening cans. Oh, and when I say “One Can” it means the standard 15 oz. can, not the ginormous ones.

Served with sour cream, of course

Served with sour cream, of course

Mara’s Chicken Taco Soup

Ingredients

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts

1/2 large onion, chopped

1 small(4 oz) can chopped jalapenos

1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 can corn, NOT drained

2 cans low-sodium chicken broth

1 can fat free refried beans

1 can Ro-Tel or other chopped tomatoes with jalapenos

1 packet low-sodium taco seasoning

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. chili powder

Directions

In a large pot, brown the chopped onion. Add the chicken and all the cans EXCEPT the refried beans, and all seasonings. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer about 45 minutes. Remove the chicken and shred, then return it to the pot. Add the refried beans and stir well, and simmer until soup is thickened. Serve with sour cream and/or shredded cheese. Serves 8.

It was another night of “OH this is good!” upon taking the first bite, so I’d say this recipe was a success! At only 4 Points® a bowl, its quite a healthy choice! And Heidi, don’t worry, there’s plenty left for lunch tomorrow!

Since my friend Holly is always hassling me about not eating enough vegetables (I eat plenty, just not enough green leafies), I made some roasted brussels sprouts as an after-dinner side. I’m so glad I have a ton of sprouts left because I LOVE roasted brussels sprouts!

Roasty Sprouty Goodness!

Roasty Sprouty Goodness!

One of my other Weight Watcher buddies has a FANTASTIC blog called “Hey, What’s For Dinner Mom?” and I think you should all check it out. She has great recipes and a fun writing style you’ll all love.

Enjoy your evening!

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Ah, Nostalgia…

All through college, I loved to pretend that I could cook. Wait, that’s not quite right. I used to like to pretend I could cook fancy food. In all reality though, I could make a few things very well.

  1. Pizza Chicken
  2. Ratatouille
  3. Baked pasta (made with a jarred “baked pasta” sauce)
  4. Lemon chicken w/noodles
  5. Turkey burgers

Yeah, thats about it. #4 up there was one of my favorites because it tasted a lot like something fancy (Chicken Picatta) but it was super simple. My friends all thought that it was so fancy, and asked me to make it for them all the time. Little did they know that it stemmed from a failed attempt at trying to make ACTUAL chicken picatta!

Since Adam and I had a relaxing night planned of doing a lot of nothing, I decided it was time to break out that old non-recipe for dinner tonight. I found myself sitting on the couch, watching Food Network, eating my lemon chicken and pasta, and was immediately thrown back… I was 20 again, living in the “Blue House”, getting ready for what some people would call a “lame” night. No, wait… the Blue House days were the days of drunken craft night with Ericka, involving way too many sparkly beads and hot glue!  Enough reminiscing… on to the recipe (This is for ONE serving)

Yes, my dinner was beige with beige.

Yes, my dinner was beige with beige.

Lemon Chicken With Noodles

Ingredients

1 chicken breast, pounded thin

1/4 c. flour

2 tsp. garlic powder

2 tsp. olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

juice of 1 lemon

1 c. cooked whole wheat pasta, kept hot

1 tbsp. parmesan cheese

Directions

Mix the flour and garlic powder together in a shallow dish. In a large heavy skillet, heat the olive oil and garlic together. Coatboth sides of the chicken breast with the flour mixture, and place the chicken in the pan. Cook, turning once. When the chicken is almost all the way cooked through, pour the juice of the lemon into the pan. Flip the chicken once again, and add more lemon juice if needed. Stir the parmesan cheese into the hot noodles, and eat.

Sometimes, if I got really ambitious with this recipe in college, I’d add some frozen broccoli florets. Usually though, I’d just go a little more nuts with the parmesan cheese (like, 1/2 c. or so) and about double the noodles. This is why I gained weight in college!!

Enjoy the simple recipe!

Out and About: Dinner Out!

Adam and I had errands to run this afternoon, so after I went on a 30 minute walk OUTSIDE in the COLD (but sunshine!), we went out. We picked up a couple things from the computer store, and then tried to decide what to do for dinner.

We decided to heed the sign… “Hot Dog Express”

No, I didn’t get a hot dog, though I wanted one. I’m very picky about where I’ll eat a proper Chicago dog. I did get a grilled chicken kebab on a pita with tzatziki sauce and a small order of french fries. Let’s just say my grease quotient is now filled!

Didn't make it, but it was still good!

Didn't make it, but it was still good!

I’m so beyond happy that tomorrow is Friday!! It’ll be another long week next week… but not nearly as long as this one!

Chicken Katsu and Peanut Noodles

I decided to venture into the wonderful world that is Panko breadcrumbs today. Panko crumbs are  Japanese breadcrumbs, usually used on the outside of tempura fried dishes, and dishes such as tonkatsu (a fried pork cutlet) and chicken katsu (the same, with chicken). Chicken katsu is a favorite of Adam’s when we go to our sushi place, so I decided to try it for dinner today. I had no recipe, so I just cooked by the seat of my pants, so to speak.

The recipe for the noodles is below!

The recipe for the noodles is below!

Chicken Katsu

Ingredients

1 lb. chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into 3 or 4 oz pieces

1 egg, beaten

1/4 c. milk (or water)

1 Tbsp. low-salt soy sauce

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1 Tbsp. dark sesame oil

1 Tbsp. olive oil

Directions

Mix together the egg, soy sauce, and milk (or water) in a shallow dish. Pour the panko crumbs into a separate dish. Heat the oils together in a large frying pan, then proceed to coat the chicken in first the egg mixture, then the panko. Gently place in the oil and cook until golden on both sides and chicken is cooked through, about 5 min. on each side.

We also had some sesame-peanut noodles with broccoli on the side. THESE were a hit! Here’s the recipe, super simple, and very easily vegetarian or vegan!!

Spicy Sesame Peanut Noodles

Ingredients

2 servings of whole wheat or high fiber pasta, cooked

3 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter

1 tsp. dark sesame oil

1 Tbsp. low-salt soy sauce

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

red pepper flakes to taste (i used about 1/2 tsp)

Whisk all ingredients except pasta in a bowl. Thin with water if necessary. The sauce should be the consistency of a thin pudding. Pour the sauce over HOT noodles, and stir until all noodles are coated. Add a vegetable of choice, I chose broccoli, but peas and/or cabbage would be delicious!

This was a fun dinner, since it tasted like we were out to eat, but we were at home in our pajamas! I’m dreading going back to work tomorow, after being off for over 2 weeks, but alas… back to reality I go! It will definitely be nice to have a set eating schedule again, and much more limited fridge access!

Super Sunday Supper

Oh I’m so glad to have cooked dinner again! I went to the grocery store today and was so excited to fill my cart with loads of produce and fresh meats instead of the random necessities for an appetizer here and there. There will be great eats this week!

Tonight’s dinner was simply comfort food. I made a simple roast chicken and mashed sweet potatoes, both using favorite recipes. The big difference between tonight’s dinner and the previous time I made each of these things is that tonights came out BETTER! The chicken was gorgeously brown, and because I let it cool before I carved it, it was super juicy. The mashed potatoes were smooth and creamy and very rich tasting without being very rich! Needless to say, I made a smaller batch than the original recipe too!

Pre-carving

Pre-carving

I'm practicing leaving spaces between my different foods at dinner

I'm practicing leaving spaces between my different foods at dinner

I’m really looking forward to tomorrow. Adam and I are both off all day, and then at 4 p.m. we’re going for acupuncture/massage appointments that were a gift from my dad. I think we’ll end up hanging out in the city for a while after our appointments, and maybe get dinner, but I’m looking forward to a relaxing day that DOESN’T involve shopping!
OH speaking of shopping… my friend and I went to an outlet mall on Friday, and I scored the deal of the century!! Just look at this gorgeous bag I got for less than 1/4 of its original price!

Photo courtesy of eBay, I couldn't get a good one

Photo courtesy of eBay, I couldn't get a good one

Tuscan-Style Chicken “Cassoulet”

I’m back! Did you miss me? I hope you’re all having a wonderful Christmas eve! After almost a week of not cooking or blogging, I was beyond thrilled to FINALLY make a dinner and know exactly what was in it! Just a quick recap of the last week before I start with today’s dinner:

  • Friday night (12/19), Adam and I went to a Hanukkah/Birthday party at my stepdad’s family’s. We got catered-in fantastic Italian food, whipped cream-topped cupcakes, and extremely generous gifts.
  • Saturday (12/20), I spent the day crocheting scarves for Hanukkah gifts, and then spent the evening babysitting. Dinner was Taco Bell (shameful, I know)
  • Sunday (12/21), was the first night of Hanukkah! We went to my mom’s for dinner and she had all our favorite Hanukkah traditions: latkes, smoked turkey sausage, and teriyaki chicken wings. Dessert was a homemade tiramisu!
  • Monday (12/22), we went to Adam’s mom’s for the 2nd night of Hanukkah, and had a dinner of fruit, veggies, and appetizers, and mini cheesecakes for dessert.
  • Yesterday, it decided to snow another oh, 5″, so neither Adam nor I wanted to go out! Dinner was carry-out Chinese!

PHEW!! No wonder I’m tired!! Tomorrow, my mom, stepdad, sister, and I are going to see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and out for Chinese food again (like the rest of the Jews do on Christmas!). Then, we finally get a break until New Years.

On to tonights dinner… My mom got me the prettiest little casserole dish for Hanukkah on Sunday, and I absolutely had to break it in! We had a ton of chicken, so when we went to the grocery store for soda, I picked up a few things to throw into a simple dinner. I’m calling it a “cassoulet” because it’s got the beans and meat in it that a standard cassoulet has, but it’s not technically in a cassoulet dish!

How cute is that pan??

How cute is that pan??

Tuscan-Style Chicken “Cassoulet”

Ingredients

3 chicken breasts

2 red or yellow potatoes, sliced thin

2 cans white beans, drained and rinsed

1 can Italian-style diced tomatoes

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

2 tsp. olive oil

1/2 c. reduced fat shredded Italian cheese

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350*. In a small casserole dish, place slices of potato so that they make one even layer. Top the potatoes with the beans and tomatoes and half of the garlic powder. Add the chicken in one layer, then top with the other sliced potato. Bake covered, about one hour. Once the chicken is done, uncover the pan and top with the cheese. Return the casserole to the oven and bake until the cheese is melted and browned.

This was what I would call a “beyond satisfying” meal! One chicken breast and the equivalent of half a potato and about 1/2 c. beans was more than enough! Adam enjoyed it as well, and I’m looking forward to putting the remaining beans/potatoes on top of some polenta tomorrow!

Earlier today, I sent this picture to my mom via text message:

back yard, take 2

back yard, take 2

She said, and I quote “You should put this on your blog! Barbecued snow has zero Points®!” So…this is for you mom 🙂

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday…you’ll be seeing more of me now that the super craziness is done!

Chicagoland Snow + Long Commute = EASY DINNER!

Let me just say right off the bat that WEATHER IN CHICAGO SUCKS!!! My normally 30 minute commute took over 2 hours tonight because it was snowing. Now, mind you, EVERYONE in Chicago can drive in the snow, we’re all awesome at it. The moment it actually starts to snow though, we all forget to slow down and let people in, and commutes take forever. I didn’t get home until 5:30… not too late for you business folks, but for a teacher, 5:30 is REALLY late!!

Once I got home, I was ravenous and wanted a super easy dinner, so I busted out an old simple Campbells recipe and it totally hit the spot!

Not attractive, but oh so good!

Not attractive, but oh so good!

Cheesy Broccoli Chicken Skillet

Ingredients

4 small chicken breasts

3 cups fresh broccoli, chopped

1 small can “Healthy Request” cream of chicken soup

1 soup can of fat free milk

2 c. raw instant brown rice

3/4 c. shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese

2 tsp. olive oil

Directions

In a large skillet with a lid, heat the olive oil. Add the chicken and brown on both sides. Remove and set aside. Add the broccoli, soup, and milk. Reduce heat to medium and cover to steam the broccoli. Stir in the rice and cheese, then return the chicken to the pan. Evenly surround the chicken with the broccoli/rice mixture. Cover and simmer until chicken and rice are cooked, about 15 minutes.

COOK’S NOTE: Make sure that your first bite is sufficiently cooled before eating it. I managed to burn my tongue, and it was NOT pleasant!

And now, some pictures of the snow near our house for you warm-weather folks. Please note that the footprints in the first picture were made over an hour ago, and now they’re almost completely filled up!

Our lovely back yard

Our lovely back yard

Out the front door

Out the front door

And with that, I’m off to watch Charlie Brown Christmas and drink some warm beverages… Happy Hump Day!